“I knew I’d find you here, little one.”
Marcus looked up, startled. The melody he had been strumming hung in the air, terminated before its resolution, which bothered his musical ear too much to leave. He played the last chord quickly and scooted himself so that he could look his visitor in the eye. “Really, Gran? ‘Little one’? I mean, I’m almost sixteen!”
“Well, whether you’re sixteen or sixty, I think I’ll always call you ‘little one’, though I’m fairly hoping that by the time you’re that old, I’ll be playing my harp and singing for the Savior.” Gran smiled and moved to settle on a wooden bench, not far from the tree at Marcus’ back. “You always did prefer your guitar to playing with the others.” Her gaze moved to follow his out to the very-minor-league-football game being waged in the field right next to them. They could hear the shouts and laughter carried on the breeze. “You don’t want to play?”
He shrugged. It was evident to Gran that he did, but didn’t want to say so. She’d had enough experience raising children that she knew the words behind a silent shrug. “They’d love to have you, I’m sure. How often do we O’Callahans all come together under the same roof, as it were?” She closed her eyes and turned her face to the cloudless blue sky. “These are days just made for sharing the love of family.”
Marcus seemed to squirm a bit at that. He took up playing quietly on his guitar again, a melody both sad and sweet. His music was always such an easily-read reflection of his emotions. At least to Gran it was. “What is it? Why does that bother you?”
He didn’t look at her, but continued watching the ball game. The music stopped again. He put his hand up, palm toward himself, showing her the mocha-colored skin on the back. He lifted an eyebrow. “I’m not sure you’ve noticed, but I don’t exactly look like an O’Callahan.” He paused and lowered his hand. “I’ve been thinking it might be time to find my birth parents.”
Gran was silent for a moment. “Well, it’s not really my place to say whether or not you should. Have you talked this over with your folks?”
“No. But I don’t think they’ll like it.” The song started up, lilting and beautiful, like clear water over river rock.
“I don’t want to tell you what to do. I’ve known you so long, that I also know it wouldn’t do me any good.” She smiled as he gave her a sheepish look, knowing that she was right. “But just remember a few things, Marcus.” Her hand reached over to touch his. “We prayed for a long time for you, little one. All of us. The whole family. God makes families out of all sorts of different pieces. Look around for a minute.”
His eyes turned to his right, where a large group of people were milling around a picnic table piled high with salads and desserts. He knew where Gran was going with this, but right now, all he saw was a sea of light-skinned people that didn’t look at all like he did.
“I know, I know. You’re gonna say, ‘But inside we’re all different.’ Right now, that doesn’t seem to matter very much. I want to be the same as somebody else. I’m tired of having people look at me strangely when I say my last name. I’m tired of people thinking things when we all go out to dinner or a movie.” He sighed. “I’m just tired of being different.”
“You caught me, Marcus. I WAS going to say that we’re all special inside, because it’s just one of God’s truths, plain and simple. He made each one of us in His image and that is a wondrous thing. As far as family goes, you love Jesus don’t you?”
“You know I do, Gran.”
“Then you’ve got a much larger family than the one standing here in this field. And there are other people in that family that look an awful lot like you. But family is much more than a skin color, or a hair color, or the same blood type or anything else. You didn’t get to be part of this family by accident, you know. You were placed here very carefully.”
She reached down and took his hand. “And have I told you how much you remind me of your father?”
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